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Reprieve for kidney cancer drug


A kidney-cancer drug might soon be available to NHS patients in England after a change of mind by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

After widespread criticism, it is to revise a previous ruling that rejected Sutent (sunitinib), despite the fact that it was available in Wales.

The new guidance is still in a draft stage and subject to consultation, although NICE hopes to issue final advice in March. Sutent does not cure advanced kidney cancer but can extend a patient’s life.

Earlier this month, Welsh health minister Edwina Hart announced that Sutent, Avastin, Nexavar and Torisel would be made available to people in Wales at a cost of £600 a week per patient.

But she made it clear that she was making the decision subject to reappraisal of the drugs by NICE.

Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said that Sutent was in the final stages of draft guidance, whereas the other drugs were at an earlier stage.

Every year, 7,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with kidney cancer, 1,700 of which are at an advanced stage of the cancer. At any one time, around 3,600 people are living with the advanced form.

Copyright Press Association 2009


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